Fandom: Guilding Light
Spoilers: Anything up to April 17th... after that I kidnap them all into my own special Springfield.
A/N: Thank you all for your lovely comments, and know that this is not the end. There are still two more parts planned. No cliffhangers. ;)
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Philip watched Frank from the corner of his eye as he drove. The police officer fiddled with a bloody bandage tied haphazardly around his hand.
“Is your hand alright, Detective Cooper?” Philip asked. Frank didn’t answer. “I ask because this car is new and I would prefer not to have blood dripping on my seats.”
“It’s fine,” Frank said and shoved the hand into his coat pocket.
“I’m glad.” He paused for a moment and watched the road. Right after he picked Frank up it had begun snowing. It was a hard, driving snow that was hard to see through, but at least it was giving a bit of traction to the ice. “I’d like to ask you why you were going to Natalia Rivera’s farmhouse. My daughter lives there and I need to know if there is something going on which requires my concern.”
Frank turned his head sharply. “You knew about them, didn’t you?”
“Knew about whom?”
“This whole damn town knew. Dumb old Frank Cooper, always the last one to know.”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“Olivia and Natalia’s relationship,” he spat.
Philip remained quiet for a moment. He wasn’t sure how to handle this. It was always his distinct impression that Olivia and Natalia had a physical relationship. He hadn’t questioned it, and he hadn’t cared in the least. It comforted him to know Emma was being raised in a household where two people so clearly loved one another. In fact, after taking note of the situation, he had basically ignored Olivia since his return to town. It amazed him how mentally healthy and happy she seemed, and he knew it was in his best interest for her to remain that way. He intended to take more time attempting to see his daughter Emma in the future, but he knew he had bridges to mend before any of that could come to fruition.
“Perhaps if you explain what you mean…”
“Oh like you don’t know. You’re the one who pushed Olivia into moving back into the farmhouse, for christsake!”
“I’m afraid I’m still lost. I was unaware Olivia ever left her home, and I certainly haven’t pushed her to do anything. I highly doubt she’d listen to me, and we haven’t spoken since…”
“If it wasn’t for you telling Olivia to move back into the farmhouse… to take my place,” Frank paused and gripped his head. It ached and the brain inside felt like a confused tangle of barbed wire. “If Natalia wasn’t so sweet and good she would have never fallen prey to that whore.”
Philip winced at the word. He didn’t know Frank Cooper very well, but he knew the Cooper family enough to know they didn’t make such accusations on a regular basis. “I beg your pardon, Detective, but you’re making little sense. I’ve been away for a long time and I’m afraid I’m not up to speed with all of this. It is my understanding that Olivia and Natalia have been very close friends and living together for quite some time now. My daughter seems to be thriving under their mutual care, and I won’t deny I’m quite happy about that. But tell me, where do you come into this picture? As I’ve said, I’ve not been keeping up to date with all the trials and tribulations of Springfield.”
Frank flexed his injured hand in his coat pocket over and over, feeling the pain of it cut through his arm and into his chest. “Natalia and I… we were going to get married.” His voice shook. “Until Olivia sunk her claws in.
Philip resisted the surprised look that wanted to claim his face. “And this just happened?”
“Yes! Why are you asking me these questions, Philip? I know you know everything. I’m sick of this.” He pulled his hand from his pocket and noticed the bandage had turned a dark red. “I’m sick of all of this.”
An uneasy silence filled the car. Neither man had any desire to continue talking. Philip knew Frank was far from being able to explain the situation with any coherence, and honestly, he wanted the man out of his car before he could bleed on his seats. He was more than relieved when they finally reached the parking lot of Company.
“I hope you and Natalia work through this, Frank,” Philip said and there was truth behind it. “For your sake,” he finished. If this situation was negatively affecting his daughter there would be hell to pay.
Frank did nothing but stare at him a moment before climbing out of the car and slamming the door shut behind him.
Buzz Cooper pulled his hat down past his ears as his feet crunched beside the increasingly snow-covered road. When the phones had gone out during his conversation with Natalia he made a decision to walk the distance across town to the police station. He was too worried Frank was going to do something he’d regret to leave the situation alone. He’d never live with himself if something happened that landed his son in jail.
The last thing in the world he ever thought he’d be doing was going to the police station to tell them to search for his son. An overwhelming guilt filled him for all the years he hadn’t been there to raise his son. He knew Frank had grown to be a good man, but the hardships he had to face in his younger years… they were enough to weaken even the strongest man.
With snow melting on his face and pricking his eyes, he felt like a betrayer.
A loud knock came from the back door of the farmhouse. Olivia dropped the book she was attempting to read and ran toward it. Since the moment Natalia left, she’d felt an overwhelming sense of doom creeping into her skin. An edgy anxiety was close to making her sick. She could do nothing but picture Natalia driving off the road or getting hit by a reckless driver. The sharp knock seemed to solidify the fears, making them tangible enough to be true.
“Philip?!” She asked wildly when she opened the door. She felt angry and frustrated that a knock made by this man could push her so far off balance.
“Hello, Olivia.” Olivia stared at him, unable to find words. “I thought we might talk?”
“Talk?” Olivia asked, her mouth hanging open slightly.
Philip tilted his head curiously. Considering he was usually hit with about ten sarcastic quips the minute he saw Olivia, this was unusual. “Is everything alright, Olivia?”
“Why are you here?”
“I have some questions about your… situation here with Natalia.”
Olivia shook her head. The realization that Philip was not here to tell her Natalia was lying in a hospital somewhere dawned on her slowly. She swallowed hard, biting back the horrible fear that had consumed her, and forced herself back into the present moment.
“Now?” She backed away from Philip and grabbed a chair. The feel of fear draining from her body left her feeling weak. “Seriously, Philip? Right now when there’s an ice storm? You drove here in this to talk about…”
Philip held up a hand. “It wasn’t my original intention, but I saw Frank Cooper earlier. He was extremely upset, and I wanted to make sure everything was okay out here with you and Emma.”
Olivia narrowed her eyes, wondering what exactly Philip meant by upset. “We’re fine. I don’t know why you’re so keen on Emma and me living out here, but we really are very happy here. ”
Philip rubbed his chin. “Why is it that people keep saying I want you to live here? While I’m perfectly fine with the idea since Emma seems to be flourishing here, I can’t say I’ve done or said much about it either way.”
“Is that right? Well, Alan stalked me down one day and told me you were going to try to take Emma away from me if I didn’t move back here.” Olivia gazed at him with a challenge in her eyes.
“I was not aware my father had done that. In fact, I was under the impression he had a problem with yours and Natalia’s relationship.” Philip glanced to the side, collecting his thoughts. “Listen, Olivia. I’m not sure what’s going on in my father’s brain, but I can assure you I didn’t come back to Springfield to take Emma away from you. You’ve been a good mother to her, and I would be foolish to take that away.”
Olivia looked at him and rolled her eyes in disbelief. “Right. And Hell just froze over.”
“Perhaps it has. Have you seen the weather outside?”
Olivia closed her eyes, restraining her emotions. “Get to the point, Philip.”
“Alright. I wanted to tell the two of you to keep an eye on our Detective Cooper. I wasn’t aware he and Natalia had almost been married, but he seems to be taking it quite hard.”
“What do you mean?” Olivia asked, feeling fear begin to bubble up in her chest again.
“I believe Frank Cooper may be a danger to your Natalia.” Philip said.
Olivia froze. An icy sheet of fear sliced its way through her entire body. “Where is he?” she said, the words barely coming out.
“I dropped him off at Company.”
Olivia stared at him for a brief moment before sprinting away toward the stairs.
“Olivia? What are you doing?” Philip called after her.
“Stay down there. Stay there!” Olivia yelled back. Philip shrugged and did as he was told.
Minutes later, Olivia came bounding back down the stairs. She had a 9mm in her hand.
“Whoa, Olivia, what are you doing?”
“Killing Frank Cooper.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” Philip said, following Olivia as she strode into the kitchen. She ignored him.
“This is a test, Philip,” she said, turning on him suddenly. Her voice left no room for protest as she put on her coat. “You will stay here with Emma until I get back. If you pass this test, I’ll allow you supervised visits with my daughter. If you fail - if you even think about going anywhere with her.” She took the gun and pressed it to his chest. “I will hunt you down.”
“Olivia, you need to stop and think for a minute. It was never my intention to…”
“Hunt. You. Down.” She interrupted and pressed the barrel of the gun into his chest to punctuate each word.
Philip nodded and mutely watched as she stormed out of the farmhouse.
As Natalia neared Company, she gave silent thanks for the relatively easy drive. It had started snowing minutes after she left the farmhouse and the traction the snow provided felt like a blessing. She was just starting to think things might work out okay when she saw Frank staggering through the door of Company.
She squinted to see him as she pulled into what she assumed was a parking space. The snow was coming down hard and it was obscuring everything. She could see he was holding some sort of tool, but couldn’t quite make it out. He came to a stop the second he saw her car and hefted the object higher. She climbed out of the car and began moving toward him. Finally, she saw what he was holding.
It was an axe.
“Hello, Frank,” she called. She forced a smiled and gave him a little wave as she drew closer.
He stared at her.
She stopped a few feet from him and gasped. “Frank! What happened to you?”
“I was going to chop some wood. The power is out,” he said. His voice sounded dazed.
“But your face… and, oh my god, Frank! Your hand!” Natalia took a few quick steps toward him and attempted to take his bloody hand away from the axe handle. He jerked away.
“I’m fine,” he said with a low growl.
“I just want to see if you’re okay. We should go inside and bandage your hand properly. How long has it been like that?”
“No!” he roared and Natalia took a step backward. “Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be at home with your girlfriend? Or has she left you already? You know how Olivia can be.” His face was contorted into a sneer.
A breath caught in Natalia’s throat. He knows.
“Frank. I think we should go inside and talk about this… calmly.”
He took a heavy step toward Natalia. She involuntarily took a step back. His voice drifted toward her through the falling snow. “I don’t know why you’re here, Natalia, but I do know why you left me at that altar. How you could be such a bitch?” He raised his eyebrows in question, waiting for a response. He swayed a little, holding the axe in such a way that it seemed to steady him like a tightrope walker’s balancing pole.
Natalia took a deep breath and steeled herself. “I am so very sorry, Frank. You have to believe me; I never meant to hurt you…”
“You heard me!” He plodded toward her. She took a step back with each of his approaching steps. “I don’t want to hear another word from you. It’s all lies. Lies! I’m sick of it!” He released his double handed grip on the axe and lifted the bloody hand to her. “Do you think I care about this? This is blood. This is flesh. You ripped my heart apart, Natalia. I’m bleeding inside - here.” He slammed his hand against his chest and left a bloody, smeared handprint on top of his coat.
“I’m so sorry, Frank.” It was the only thing she could think to say. Normally she was so eloquent in difficult situations. Until now she’d been able to talk even the most confused and angry person down off a ledge, but this was too much. Fear gripped her and she could do little but tremble and feel herself looking wide-eyed from Frank’s face to the axe he now held limply at his side.
“Sorry is not the word I want to hear from you, Natalia.”
“Then what…” Still stumbling backwards. He silently walked toward her. Eventually, she felt her own car door come into contact with her back.
Frank smiled. “You can’t run away anymore, Natalia.” He raised the axe until he was hefting it in both hands again.
Olivia was driving like a maniac. Often she had been called a maniac or something similar, but this time, for the first time, she felt it. She felt like she was on the edge of sanity ready to topple over the edge at any moment. The very idea of Natalia Rivera in danger sent her mind staggering into a place it had never been before. Her thoughts were uncontrolled, but focused. She had only one mission, one thought, and only one desire. She reached over, touched the gun beside her, and felt a shutter pass through her body.
She would do it. If Frank Cooper was even looking at the woman she loved more than anything else in this universe she would kill him. She imagined it again and again as she speeded down the twisting roads. She would squeeze the trigger and feel an almost orgasmic pleasure as the bullet pushed his body to the ground.
Slamming the accelerator harder, she didn’t care if there was snow or ice or the very fires of Hell barring her way. She would not allow anything to happen to Natalia. She would protect her love until her dying breath.
After what seemed like an eternity filled with slowly passing seconds, she could see the structure of Company rise up through the snow storm. She pounded her car into the parking lot, not caring that she hit the curb, not caring that she skidded a hundred feet before coming to a stop, not caring about anything but Natalia.
Once stopped, she threw open the car door with the force of a wild animal. She grasped the gun in her hand and looked wildly around. To the left, through the heavily falling snow, she saw two figures against a car. Natalia’s car.
Olivia ran toward them as fast as the icy snow would allow.
She felt her heart race wildly, dangerously, but she didn’t care. She would have gladly ripped the heart from her chest and thrown it over a cliff if it meant saving Natalia. Natalia was all that mattered.
“FRANK COOPER!” Olivia bellowed through the snow.
She was close enough now to see that Frank had Natalia pinned to her car. No. No. No…
“NO!” she yelled, stopping a few feet from the pair. She raised the gun in her hand.
“Olivia! What are you doing?!” Natalia called out in fear. As much as Frank was scaring her, the sight of Olivia with that gun in her hand chilled her to the bone. “Please, Olivia. No!”
Frank looked wildly from Olivia back to Natalia.
Olivia stepped forward, holding the gun firmly in front of her with two hands. “Let her go. Now." Her voice was a barely controlled growl.
Frank dipped his head down and looked at her with a feral sneer. He grabbed Natalia’s arm and pulled her in front of him. He swung the axe and gripped it tightly around her body, pressing her back to his chest with the wooden handle. He angled the axe so the blade was perilously close to Natalia’s face.
Olivia faltered for a moment, but continued to hold the gun firmly in her hands.
“I will kill you, Frank Cooper,” she snarled.
“How are you going to do that, Olivia?” Frank asked, his voice eerily calm. “How will you steal her from me this time?”
Olivia took a tentative step forward. He jerked Natalia’s body tighter against him and she froze. Her mind was a tangled web of fear, rage, and confusion. The picture she’d always held in her mind of Frank Cooper was warring with what her eyes were seeing. He was a good man. She knew this and had accepted it for all the years she’d known him. Could he really hurt Natalia? Did he really have it in him? A voice in her told mind her he couldn’t, but the look on his face told her he could. However, she could also see that his arms were trembling and blood was dripping down his left hand. Frank Cooper was injured and clearly in physical pain.
“Frank,” she began, her voice low, hoping to somehow reason with the clearly insane side of Frank’s mind. “I’m not sure exactly what is going on here, but I don’t think you want to do this. You know me. I’m a crazy bitch, and I can’t guarantee I won’t shoot you. I don’t want to shoot you, but if I have to choose between you and Natalia… there is no choice. Let her go, Frank?”
“Olivia,” Frank spat out the word. “Do you know how long I’ve hated you? Do you? The way you invade people’s lives and take them over until you’re tired of them and throw them out like garbage… it makes me sick. You’re even more of a stupid bitch than I thought if you think I’m just going to hand Natalia over to you.”
Natalia clenched her teeth in rage. She couldn’t believe this was happening. The way Frank was talking about Olivia was making her blood boil. She wanted to kick him, punch him, and throw him to the ground, but the grip he had on her was tight and binding. How could he be doing this?
Suddenly, she heard more of Olivia’s voice drift toward them in the wind, but she couldn’t understand the words. She was too angry to hear. She only felt Frank jerk against her in anger. He yelled something in response that travelled passed her ear and almost deafened her with the amount of rage it carried. And suddenly, he loosened his grip.
Instincts Natalia never knew she possessed suddenly triggered inside of her. With every ounce of strength she could find, she began pulling the axe from his hands. He staggered back and lost contact with her body. She twisted in his grip and reached for his hands. He surged his body against her, trying to regain his grip, but she bent her hand around and grabbed his injured hand with all the strength she possessed. She bent a thumb between the axe handle and his wound, grinding her thumb into the gash, and using the axe handle as leverage to push it in farther. She pushed and grinded his hand into the wood until he collapsed to his knees, releasing a wild scream of pain.
Olivia sprinted toward the fallen figure of Frank and held the gun to his temple. He didn’t notice. He was looking down at his mangled hand and repressing shouts of pain.
Olivia’s hand shook. “I love her. You will never hurt her. I love her,” she kept repeating in a shaky, tear-filled voice until Natalia reached out and took the gun slowly from Olivia’s hand and put a steadying hand around her waist.
Natalia kissed Olivia’s temple silently. “It’s okay,” she whispered, trying to lead Olivia away.
Somewhere in the distance police sirens began to sound.